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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Thursday, September 29, 2005

meta dkos

I've pretty much lost my heart for dkos 'meta-battles' on dkos. Argh. But I do feel an obligation lay out my opinion and clarify some misconceptions, and then move on.

For the sake of clarity, I think the discussion bink and booman started is a good one. However, I would like to clear up ways in which bink mischaracterized my views....even though I think his post, and this comment in particular, was valid and "fair enough."

In a nutshell, my opinion is that dkos can only do...maybe...two of the following three things successfully at one time:

  • 1. Be Markos' private blog where he rants and posts whatever he wants and people read it.
  • 2. Be KosMedia LLC...a kind of 'new media venture'...with subscribers, advertising, spin offs, staff writers and a commercial community: a kind of online magazine/forum/news service with reader generated content ...(that last part seems a bit of an eternal contradiction, imo.)
  • 3. Be the big tent "open source meeting place for Democrats and fellow travelers on the web" where we strategize, organize, raise money and do politics to take back D.C. from the GOP with as much innovative webroots democracy as we can muster, including meeting up in person someday and getting 'organized.'


  • Now, the contradictions here would challenge any blog run by anyone. They aren't particular to dKos. In particular, point one runs against both two and three to varying degrees at times. Point three, which is how many people approached dKos, in my view, is very hard to match up with one and two. For me, project number three is the only reason I ever got involved in dKos.

    My proposal to Markos, the "staff", and the community has been that we innovate some way to navigate these contradictions. My goal was to find a way for Markos to rightfully have "his voice" and "his blog"..hell, even his "new media enterprise"...but for the dkos community to be able to innovate some way to make goal number three, dKos as a democratic place for the netroots to organize and come together, more of a reality. Obviously, I mishandled that attempt both privately and publicly; quite frankly, I failed.

    However, bink's characterization of me as some kind of ingrate "rabble rouser," in my view, turns the story on its head and ignores history. I was nominated to write on the front page by the readers of dailykos. I was asked to join the front page by kos. And when I joined I was sent emails that read "staff" and invited to play a role in moderating the site. So, when Markos posted the anonymous Brazile piece, a piece that violated my off-line ethics and standards I thought we owed our readers...I did what I've done in every organization I've ever participated in: I made the case for change. I took it to the hoop.

    My argument was for more transparency (no more anonymous pieces), for some kind of editorial board (to deal with banning / promoting / new front pagers / and to play a referee role at times), for more women on the front page, and for some kind of innovative structural reform that would let Markos keep what he had built and worked so hard on, but let the community have a chance at developing ways to build project three in an open source way. Since project three was why I participated in dailykos in the first place, and the discussions I had with the staff and Markos made it clear that points one and two would rule the day....I left the staff. It just wasn't a good fit for me anymore. The discussions just never clicked.

    Now, I tried to write as a diarist for awhile. But, to be honest, Markos' abuse of the ownership vibe...his writing as if he can do as he damn well pleases...community, accountability and leadership be damned...soured me; to be blunt, kos sometimes writes as if his online community were no more than a big online game where some people 'get pwned', or, get left by the wayside, especially if they don't fit his politics; that rubs me the wrong way. That's not my offline politics, and I think Markos' attitude at times flies in the face of the size of his readership and the leadership / figurehead role he inevitably plays. It's not the best attitude to take in a party where we have to work together and persuade each other if we are going to win. At the end of the day, it is as a pragmatic matter his blog, and he will do what he wants with it, but that is...a very narrow view of the community of dailykos. We'll see what comes; I'm open to positive developments even if I don't play a part in them.

    At the end of the day, I felt that what we did in the early days of scoop at dKos, and over the summer and fall in 2004 achieved something significant that Markos, at best, glimpsed but did not much participate in. Personally, I know there's a kind of diary and a kind of writing that I did on dKos that I don't think I can replicate anywhere else, though I'll try. Many other writers had that spirit as well; those of us who were there can all agree that Meteor Blades and a gilas girl schooled many of us and created a space for that kind of community with their posts and comments. When booman linked to those protest journals by his readers last night...I thought...."these people get it"...the human, transformative power of web community, of people coming together for change and organizing to make a difference. Does Markos "get that?" Ehn...mebbe...at times. Other times it seems to me that he looks askance at it. That vision was the spirit of booman's post, and perhaps what bink doesn't get in response to booman, or maybe, at the end of the day, what bink just sees differently.

    You can't make that kind of community happen by telling it to appear. In some ways, community like that reflects a spirit of the times and it goes where it wants to go...even if it pushes us apart. To me, a sense of community in all its forms, not just its progressive one, is the critical fuel that will get folks to build and participate in building organized, open-source, online politics...however that project eventually does or does not come to fruition. For myself, I'm here for now, and less and less at dailykos. I am working the best I can, like all of us are, to boot the GOP out of D.C. in 2006 and make sure we don't drop the ball on a host of elections this November. I'm sure we can agree on these goals and come together on them, even if we do it separately.

    Fwiw, I don't begrudge anyone anything. I think bink is correct to point out how dailykos is valuable and significant just for what it does do well right now, including a ton of hard work by thousands of people, not least Markos himself. It has been a significant place for all of us for just that reason, a foundation of hard work and community building. Many kossacks feel "right at home" on dkos; and none of us should begrudge anyone that, even if we don't, at the end of the day, always feel the same way, and for valid reasons.

    Will dailykos succeed at building and organizing an online open source netroots community that has a political impact? Could it ever have done so...was it ever even meant to given the framework? I don't know. Markos certainly seems committed to innovating the new media format and...uh....thousands of people happily post on dkos under the current terms. So, maybe something new will develop. The 2006 elections will be a test case of how the site navigates its multiple roles.

    As for me, I gave it my all on dKos...writing well over 150 essays there in the last two years...perhaps laboring under a really big misconception. In essence, online community building was at the heart of what all my dkos diaries were about. It's likely time to let that go and move on.

    So, yeah, there it is. Meta dkos. I'm not going to make a habit of it, but I do have the right to my opinion, and I thought it was important to clarify my side of the story.

    {Permalink}

    6 Comments:

    • I sit on the sidelines with the metaKos stuff because, frankly, I don't feel all that invested in that particular site; but your commentary wrt community-building is spot on and something that I've tried to nurture at BMT. There has to be a balance between community morale and political activism, which is why this type of discussion is crucial, in my humble opinion, of course.

      By Blogger Man Eegee, at 1:41 PM  

    • I feel comfortable at DKos and each of its spinoffs. Granted, I don't stomp on the terra too much with excellent diaries, but that's because there have been and continue to be people who do it much better than me. That goes for any of the Scoop sites, as well as places like k/o. I like the feel that these smaller corner office blogs have, even though this format came first. Meta-analysis is always ok with me.

      I guess I'm only intimidated here by the host's knowledge base of jazz, but I'll catch up.

      By Blogger Keir, at 2:02 PM  

    • Wow, nothing could confirm the spirit of this post more than that hateful anonymous comment which is, really, nothing other than cowardly and disgusting.

      I don't have much experience with hate mail but the thing that strikes me about anonymous is that there actually is a sentient human being, well versed enough to have found and participated on this thread, behind the comment. It doesn't write itself automatically. Neither do any of the thousands of words and posts made every day at daily kos.

      By Blogger awol, at 3:41 PM  

    • The first comment here hit me in the face as the page came up.

      I'm not moved to defend k/o or myself (although I felt slighted and I just came to read), but I feel I've just watched an act of senseless violence. I can only cringe at the stupidity.

      Sometimes I wonder if this is all worth the effort.

      By Blogger NYBri, at 9:50 PM  

    • Okay...then...I'll just delete it.

      I'm all for free speech, but letting someone mess with my readers day...or night.

      Nope.

      So, new policy, content free insults and anonymous ravings will be deleted....sorry. folks.

      kid o.

      By Blogger kid oakland, at 10:01 PM  

    • Thanks for sharing. I'm glad to hear your side of things.

      I always think of dkos as an open source political news portal (king of like option 2?). I check it out a few times a day to see what’s breaking.

      I really liked the community aspect of it for awhile – especially during the election – but I didn’t have to get disappointed more than a few times before I gave up on that.

      As for Kos’, he comes across to me as a surly bar owner. When he shows up, everyone kind of hushes down out of deference to let him speak his peace. When he’s done, the music starts up again, a few folks slap him on the back hoping for a free drink, and the rest of us resume our conversations.

      By Anonymous DirtyD, at 1:30 AM  

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